I have this long list of potential interviewees, all on post it notes, doggedly taped to my desk. I just go down it and contact the next person up. Well, the next perspective creator was someone named Barbra Dillon. She is professional and personable and is in a company called Fanboy Comics along with her husband Bryant Dillon and Sam Rhodes. She hooked me up with Bryant and Sam, the writers, for an intriguing interview.
Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Sam Rhodes, co-writer of Something Animal. Originally, I’m from Richmond, VA, but I live in Los Angeles right now.
My name is Bryant Dillon. I’m president of Fanboy Comics and co-writer of ‘Something Animal.’ I’m also the writer of FBC’s next graphic novel, “Identity Thief.’ Sam and I were roommates and college. We studied acting at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa. When we moved west for acting, we eventually got into writing for our own films and it lead to the writing of our own comic books.
Did you read comics growing up, if so, what?
I loved comics when I was younger. I had a great comic shop in my hometown of State College, Pa called The Comic Swap and I was a frequent visitor. I focused mostly on Dark Horse’s ‘Aliens’ and ‘Predator’ books, but I was also a fan of ‘Spawn,’ Topps Comics’ ‘Jurassic Park’ series and some of the ‘Star Wars’ books. Later in life, I got into superhero comics. ‘Preacher’ by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon is my favorite book of all time.
I mostly flipped through my older brother’s issues of Spider-Man and X-Men to see scantily clad women. I ended up being drawn into the Maximum Carnage arc and read that all the way through. That was about the extent of my comics experience until Bryant started lending me graphic novels in college. Then I got hooked.
Groovy. Its always interesting to see ones arc to becoming creators. So you guys met at theatre majors in college, did you discuss creating comics back then or was it only after moving to Los Angeles?
For me, it was only after moving to Los Angeles. I was writing a screenplay with a friend of mine and we decided to adapt part of the story into a single issue comic to help with pitching the project. I draw as a hobby and although I’ve never considered my work professional quality, my friend convinced me to pencil and ink this first issue. The screenplay never really ended up going anywhere, but the process of creating that first issue gave me the experience needed to continue on and I really loved diving into the indie comic world. When I started Fanboy Comics with Sam Rhodes and Barbra Dillon, all those skills become very valuable.
Not me so much in college, but Bryant and a mutual friend of ours were creating a comic. I was sort of on the periphery, just reading comics and focusing on acting and writing. It wasn’t till I moved out here that I started really talking about creating comics with Bryant and his wife Barbra. And so FBC was born!
You formed your company, then you had to decide on a concept to produce. How did that process happen? Was Something Animal your first choice?
‘Something Animal’ started out as a short film. After we wrote and shot the film, we decided to also create a graphic novel version of the story. Once found artist Robert Burrows and saw his amazing work, the graphic novel quickly become a inspirational force that gave birth to Fanboy Comics.
Yeah, also the more we talked the more we felt that we had positive things to bring to the geek world. And that’s sort of how FBC grew into more than just a publishing company.
That’s interesting, the power of the idea and short film led to the formation of the company. I was a D.P. for years before publishing my own stuff so I understand the transition. Tell me a little bit about the story of “Something Animals?”
The story of ‘Something Animal’ is very simple, in ways. It’s the story of a young man questioning whether he’s becoming a vampire or some other supernatural creature. The difference in our tale is that there are really no supernatural elements. Our main character is bitten before the changes start, but he doesn’t get fangs, he’s not effected by sunlight, he doesn’t have super powers or abilities. It’s more akin to a terminal disease where he loses the ability to eat solid food, he has violent hallucinations and starts craving blood. Because of this, in the end it is left up to the reader as to whether the main character is going through a supernatural change or whether he’s simply experiencing post-traumatic stress to an extreme degree and has simply lost his mind.
We wanted it to feel more like a gritty psychological thriller, in the vein of seven or 28 days later, more than a “vampire story” It’s actually based on a short story that my older brother wrote a few years back.
You’re doing what I tell young writers to do, take something familiar and put your unique version on it. You dont have to reinvent the wheel. You told us earlier that you found the perfect artist for this first book, tell me a little bit about how the search went and do you have any advice for other new creators about finding the correct artist for their project?
We actually found Robert on Craigslist, strangely enough. We couldn’t believe it. But it ended up being a great working relationship. My advice to find someone who not only has talent and capture the tone you’re looking for, but someone who you actually get along with. It will make the process so much easier!
Hey, Andre, just so you know I’m going to have to peace out in the next 10 minutes or so. Bryant can probably stick around for a bit though.
Thats okay, I’m about done.
Cool, Bryant’s got a follow up for your last question on the way now
Tell me about your newest project, Identity Thief?
Yeah, we got very lucky with Robert. I think the best advice I can give to creators is to not get to possessive or defensive in regards to your story. Be open to collaboration with the artist. There needs to be give and take and ultimately that will lead to a better end project.
Okay, now tell me about Identity Thief?
‘Identity Thief’ shares a lot of elements with ‘Something Animal.’ It’s a horror book, but it less on the blood and more heavy on the creep factor. It deals with a young couple who moves into a new apartment and discovers a mysterious hatch in the ceiling of their closet. Later, the audience discovers that some sort of creature lives in the hatch and “explores” the apartment each night, clearly with some sort of disturbing “mission” involving the human occupants.
Great, lastly where can the fans contact you and find your stuff?
I think of ID Thief as a really awesome Tales from the Dark side episode.
We have a lot going on at www.fanboycomics.net. You can find out about all our publishing projects as well as all the news and reviews that we post daily.
Thanks so much Andre! I’m gonna scram, but Bryant can finish this off with you. It was a pleasure chatting with you!
Well thanks fellas for a fun interview, I have a ton of other questions, but this column is only so long.
We are also on Facebook and Twitter and you can subscribe to our daily, e-newsletter ‘The Fanboy Scoop’ at fanboycomics.net. It covers our company news as well as general news in geek culture!
It was a pleasure! Thanks Andre.
Thanks, Andre! Please let us know if there’s anything else we can provide!
Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!
By Andre Owens
“A look at Fanboy Comics, an Interview with Bryant Dillon and Sam Rhodes”